Lawmaker Urges Tatmadaw Not to Block Shipments of Rice, Fuel to Tanai

By Htet Naing Zaw 28 June 2017

NAYPYITAW — A Tanai Township lawmaker asked the Tatmadaw to stop blocking commodities from being transported to Kachin State’s Tanai Township at the Lower House on Tuesday.

“Since April of last year, the Tatmadaw has been inspecting rice shipments to Tanai Township. In November, a Tatmadaw battalion in Hpakant Township banned them. Since then, rice can only be transported with their approval,” lawmaker U Lin Lin Oo told Parliament.

The lawmaker said he had sent a request to the army chief on June 12 asking him to stop the Tatmadaw troops based in the village of Dunbawng in Hpakant Township from blocking rice and fuel transport on Ledo Road.

Deputy Defense Minister Maj-Gen Myint Nwe told Parliament that the Myitkyina District General Administration Department had calculated and reported that more rice and fuel were being sent into Tanai than necessary. He claimed that the surpluses were being brought into areas controlled by the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and its armed wing the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) through various means.

The defense minister said he had informed the Kachin State government that rice and fuel should only serve local demand and not KIO/KIA interests.

“We allow the transportation of rice and fuel into Tanai based on calculations from the Tanai Township General Administration Department. We have only blocked surpluses for security concerns,” he said.

The lawmaker said the military has blocked the transport of commodities for seven months and that commodities for the month of May had not even arrived in June – making food prices unstable.

“I’d like to know if [the ban] is the army chief’s idea and if the Union government has approved it. If not, Parliament should consider this,” said lawmaker U Lin Lin Oo.

The deputy minister stated that Kachin State Chief Minister Dr. Khet Aung and the commander of Northern Command Maj-Gen Nyi Nyi Swe were cooperating for regional security.

U Zaw Win, a lawmaker in the Kachin State Parliament, told The Irrawaddy that the state Parliament had approved his proposal on May 29 to allow the unfettered transportation of rice and fuel to Tanai Township, but that the Kachin State government could do nothing in reality.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.